- By Natalya Bokareva
- Oct. 20 2013 19:11
City Hall Chairman: Vladimir Yatsuba
Main industries: ship repair industry, fishing, passenger and cargo transportation, hospitality and recreation sector
Founded in 1783
Interesting fact: Sevastopol іs оne оf twо cities wіth a special status іn Ukraine. Sevastopol has no elected mayor; the chairman of the Sevastopol City State Administration, or City Hall, is appointed by Ukraine's president.
Sister cities: Galati, Romania
Helpful contacts: Yelena Chekalina, head of investment and foreign economic activity at Sevastopol City Hall (19 Ulitsa Lenina; + 38 (0692) 53-51-60; investsevastopol.com/ru/index.html).
SEVASTOPOL, Ukraine — A train cutting into a scenic city harbor with moored ships may be your first impression of Sevastopol, a Black Sea port in Ukraine. Even if you are at the end a long journey that covered all sorts of landscapes, this new view through the train's window will overwhelm you.
You also will immediately feel the calm and glory of this proud city, which was built as a naval base and whose entire history is wrapped up in the navy.
Founded by Catherine the Great in 1783, Sevastopol was built to reinforce the Russian Navy's grip on the Black Sea. In Soviet times, the port was transferred to the Ukrainian Soviet Republic. After the Soviet collapse in 1991, it went to independent Ukraine but remained in use by the Russian Navy. In 2010, a naval lease agreement was extended until 2042.
Ethnic Russians make up the majority of the local population, accounting for more than 70 percent in 2001, the latest census figures show. Russian is widely spoken in Sevastopol.
Some Russians, it seems, also wish that Sevastopol remained on Russian territory. Notably, while serving as Moscow's mayor, Yury Luzhkov declared that Sevastopol still belonged to Russia, inciting much criticism and even prompting Ukraine to bar him.
Major Local Businesses
Sevmorzavod (Sevastopol Marine Plant; 13 Ulitsa Groev Sevastopolya; + 38 (0692) 92-13-11; smp.com.ua; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org) is a state-owned company engaged in the repair, modernization and re-equipment of Navy ships and submarines.
The Sevastopol Winemaking Factory (8 Ulitsa Portovaya; +38 (0692) 46-15-91; sevastopol-winery.com/lang/en-us) produces popular local brands of dry sparkling, sweet and semi-sweet wines including the Sevastopol sparkling wine, the Crimean sparkling wine and the champagne of Ukraine. The factory produces 8 million bottles a year.
The Sevastopol Sea Fishing Port (5 Ulitsa Rybakov; +38 (0692) 41-24-82; email@example.com) handles the loading and unloading of ships, trains and motor transportation and offers warehousing and other port services. The port handled more than 2 million tons of cargo and 16,500 tons of seafood in 2012.
"It is easy to understand why the Russians are lamenting the loss of Sevastopol more than any other chunk of their vast empire," the Lonely Planet guidebook says about Sevastopol. "Orderly and clean as the deck of a ship, with whitewashed neoclassical buildings surrounding a cerulean bay, it has everything most Russian cities badly lack."
Before the incident, however, Luzhkov was instrumental in building Russia's ties with Sevastopol. He initiated the opening of a branch of Moscow State University in Sevastopol, the university's first campus outside Russia. The red rooftops of the campus dominate the panorama of the Sevastopol bay.
Sevastopol has lived through glorious and tragic times. It was destroyed and rebuilt twice: during the Crimean War from 1853-54 and World War II.
The city endured a siege of 349 days during the Crimean War, which pitted Russia against allied British, French and Turkish forces. Despite Russia's bitter defeat, Sevastopol is remembered as a stronghold of courageous resistance.
In Soviet times, the city was awarded with the title of Hero City, for its struggle against Axis powers during World War II. The city fell after a 250-day siege by Nazi forces.
History may be one of the main local attractions for visitors from outside the former Soviet Union. But for Russians and Ukrainians, the city remains a favorite sea resort with sunny beaches, beautiful hilly landscapes and a perfect climate. Many tourists flock to Sevastopol to attend celebrations linked to naval holidays, when Russian and Ukrainian fleets stage shows in city harbors.
Q: How would you assess the hospitality sector in Sevastopol?
A: The sector is underdeveloped, and the main reason may be the high seasonal fluctuations in the hotel business in the Crimea. Sure, almost every hotel is fully booked in the summer, but what do hoteliers do off-season?
Q: What niche is the most promising for foreign investors?
A: There is a lack of luxury hotels in the Crimea. If we talk about Sevastopol, I think there is definitely a niche for a genuine five-star hotel in the city. Operators of four- and five-star hotels also should take note of the opportunities in the southern Crimean coast: Alushta, Alupka and Simeiz are unique, beautiful destinations.
Q: What attracts foreign travelers to the Crimea?
A: The Crimea is a unique, historic region that attracts people interested in history. Besides regular tourist visits, Britons often tour the battlefields of the Crimean War. I think young travelers are attracted to Crimea by the Black Sea and the bright and busy nightlife.
Q: Why did you leave Sevastopol for Moscow?
A: I still have business in Sevastopol, but I moved to Moscow because it is the right thing for a young ambitious guy to do. Moscow offers a completely different scope of opportunities.
Sevastopol seems to offer all visitors a warm welcome. Many young Russians heading to the city do not even book a room in advance, counting on the abundant options that are available in the private sector. Such accommodation is far less expensive for young travelers and may lend a certain authentic flavor to their journey. Locals equip parts of their houses for rent during the vacation season. Sometimes you can even find locals who have added additional rooms to their homes just for tourists.
For many travelers, however, hotels or traditional bed and breakfast establishments might be a more comfortable option.
What to see if you have two hours
Take a boat tour of Sevastopol's bay. The city looks wonderful from the water. In summer, boats set off frequently from Primorsky Bulvar, which is also one of the favorite places among locals to relax. Here you will also see the Monument to Scuttled Ships, a well-known symbol of Sevastopol that commemorates the Russians' decision to sink their fleet to block access to the harbor during the Crimean War.
Then go for a walk along Prospekt Nakhimova, which runs parallel to Primorsky Bulvar, to Grafskaya Pristan, a white colonnade decorating the main historical sea gate to the city.
What to do if you have two days
If you are interested in war history, visit the Panorama Museum (10 Istorychesky Bulvar; +38 (0692) 54-40-31; sev-museum-panorama.com/ru/panorama.html), where you can see an enormous panoramic painting by Franz Roubaud depicting 75,000 Russian soldiers repulsing 173,000 British and French troops on June 6, 1855, a key date in the Crimean War.
Walk up Malakhov Hill (Malakhov Hill; +38 (0692) 48 6751; sev-museum-panorama.com/ru/obmk.html), where fierce fighting took place during both of the sieges of Sevastopol. The hill dominates the surrounding landscape and was a key target for the foreign attackers. Monuments commemorate the sites where Admiral Kornilov and Admiral Nakhimov were mortally wounded in the Crimean War.
Here you also can find memorials to British and Turkish soldiers and a mass grave containing the remains of Russian and French troops killed in the last battle for Malakhov Hill in 1855. Artillery guns mark positions from the Crimean War as well as World War II. A prominent historical memorial, Malakhov Hill also contains a beautiful park with a magnificent views of the city and harbors.
Take a tour of Chersonese (1 Ulitsa Drevnyaya; +38 (0692) 24-13-01; chersonesos.org), the site of an excavated ancient city with buildings and fortifications dating back to the 5th century BC. Dorian Greeks established Chersonese as an important gateway on their trade route. This trade initially shaped the local economy, which later expanded with the production of grapes and grain and winemaking. In the Middle Ages, the city became an important center of Christianity, which can be traced by the remains of early Christian monuments and ancient Roman tower fortifications. Chersonese, which was destroyed in raids by nomadic tribes in the 14th century, is today protected by the Ukrainian government as an archeological site. In June 2013, it was included in the UNESCO World Heritage List.
Designated as a special district within Sevastopol's city limits, Chersonese is open to visitors from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. from May to September and closes at 5:30 p.m. for the rest of the year.
A: Sevastopol is a port city, a sea gate to Ukraine and an international transport hub with a well-developed maritime economy. Twelve maritime countries are within a 600-kilometer radius of Sevastopol, which guarantees high volumes of cargo shipping via the ice-free, deep-water safe ports of the city. The city also has excellent ship-repair facilities, including big dry docks.
Also, the region's climate and rich cultural heritage support the active development of tourism and recreation. The 38 bays along Sevastopol's coastline offer places for marinas and international yachting tourism.
The subtropical climate is good for the agricultural sector, and conditions are also favorable for the seafood industry.
We aspire to attract foreign investors and help them adapt in the region. The city authorities treat investors as partners and create a convenient environment for their business.
Q: In what areas is the cooperation with international partners most active?
A: The total FDI inflow into Sevastopol from 33 countries reached $179.4 million by July 1, 2013. The main source countries, accounting for more than 70 percent of the inflows, are Cyprus ($99.2 million), Russia ($19.4 million), Sweden ($13.3 million), and Britain ($9.9 million).
The most attractive industries for investment have been transport and communications, attracting 35.8 percent of the total amount, followed by manufacturing (29 percent) and construction (13.6 percent).
More than 100 joint ventures in the export and import sector contribute to Sevastopol's trade, with the main trading partners being Russia and Turkey. In the EU, the biggest turnover is with Estonia, Germany, Poland, Norway, Bulgaria and Britain. The transport and machinery sectors are the top areas of cooperation.
Q: What is being done to attract foreign investment?
Following Sevastopol's investment facilitation program for 2011 to 2013, city authorities are currently finalizing the next program for 2014 to 2016. We aim to promote the city at international conferences and fairs, distribute information about the region and maintain and update the city's investment portal. We are currently implementing a EU-funded project called "Foreign Direct Investment Promotion in Sevastopol," with planned spending of 1.9 million euros over two years.
As part of the program, EU experts are helping us build infrastructure to facilitate investment and promote the city in the international investment market. The measures include the creation of an industrial park in Sevastopol, building a "one-stop" investment mechanism based on European best practices, and supporting Sevastopol's businesses as they expand in the international markets.
As an option for sightseeing in Sevastopol, consider booking a customized guided tour from toursbylocals.com. You can find options with transfer included. Try five-star guide Alexander Shybanov, a retired Soviet Navy officer who has received rave reviews from visitors from across the globe. He also helped the BBC prepare a short presentation on Sevastopol.
For a night out, look up what is on at the Sevastopol Academic Dance Theater (4 Prospekt Nakhimova; +38 (0692) 54-76-03; elizarovtheatre.com/repertoire_en.php). The website of the popular theater offers short descriptions of key productions as well as media reviews.
A favorite place to hang out is QBar (8a Ulitsa Lenina; +38 (0936) 79-31-30; qbar.com.ua), a trendy bar and cafe located on a busy street not far from City Hall. Stylish, with a positive mood and laid-back atmosphere, the establishment hosts a variety of events, parties and DJs. Check the website for details on the latest offerings.
Where to eat
If you would like to try local delicacies, book a table at the Ostrov (3 Istorichesky Bulvar; +38 (0692) 94-88-94; ostrovcafe.com), a restaurant serving healthy organic food sourced from Crimean fishers and farmers. For starters, try the goats cheese and fresh seafood, particularly Black Sea mullet fish or mussels sourced off the coast near Katsiveli village. Ostrov offers a good variety of local Crimean wines as well. For dessert, order brown bread ice cream, which is a popular choice with the restaurant's guests, who have included Konstantin Raikin, the prominent Russian film and theater actor and artistic director of Satiricon Theater in Moscow. The average check is 150 hryvna ($18).
One of the best-known seafood restaurants in Sevastopol is the Restaurant Balaklava (1 Ploshchad Pervogo Maya; +38 (0692) 63-78-34; restoran-balaklava.com) located on Balaklava Bay. Former President Boris Yeltsin dined here, as have Britain's Prince Michael of Kent and Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh. Be sure to taste the Corsair, a cream and cheese soup mixed with sturgeon and shrimp and served in a bread bowl with a shot of rum. A good choice for main course is flounder fillet with seafood in a special sauce. The average check for one without alcoholic drinks is $28.
Where to stay
For a comfortable stay in the city center in front of the picturesque Sevastopol Bay, choose the Best Western Sevastopol Hotel (8 Prospekt Nakhimova; +38 (0692) 53-90-60; sevastopol-hotel.com.ua). The hotel offers modern well-equipped rooms, conference facilities and transfer services. The hotel's guestlist has included Britain's Prince Charles and Prince Michael of Kent. Room rates start at $85, depending on the season.
For a more budget-conscious traveler, the Aurora Hotel (12 Ulitsa Kozhanova; +38 (0692) 54-67-55; hotel-avrora.com.ua) is a good alternative. Located just off the main streets, the hotel boasts stylish interiors inspired by a ship's design. The hotel's name itself refers to the famous cruiser, the Aurora. A single costs $35, while a double room goes for $55.
A popular choice among many public figures traveling to Sevastopol is the boutique hotel Chersonese Apartments (34 Ulitsa Drevnyaya; +38 (0692) 24-15-87; hersones.com.ua), located within walking distance of the Chersonese ruins. Each luxurious suite is designed in a unique style that reflects a particular historic period or cultural subject. The rate for a double suite ranges from $85 to $365 per night.
As for accommodation in the private sector, it is better if you have some contacts and references and can arrange it in advance. Otherwise it may be tricky to guess on the spot which location is better for you or what you can expect from rooms offered at the train station. Prices can be half the amount of mid-range hotels like the Aurora.
Sea is the eternal subject of Sevastopol. Calm or stormy, the sea is always magnificent. You can always talk about the weather or ask for advice how to get to one of the beaches to swim and sunbathe. Usually people in Sevastopol are very friendly, so you will not need any special approach to break the ice.
How to get there
No regular flights connect Moscow with Sevastopol year round. The Dniproavia airline offers seasonal service from Moscow's Domodedovo Airport to Sevastopol's Belbek Airport, originally a military airport, for $275 roundtrip.
Most people prefer to fly to Simferopol, which is about an 80-minute drive from Sevastopol.
Depending on the season, Aeroflot offers up to five flights a day from Sheremetyevo Airport, with ticket prices starting at 4,500 rubles ($140) roundtrip. S7 Airlines and Transaero have flights departing from Domodedovo and at prices from 3,600 rubles ($115). The 1,500-kilometer flight lasts about two hours.
If you enjoy long journeys by rail — and want to witness the breathtaking view of Sevastopol through the train window — buy a ticket for the 26-hour trip at Moscow's Kursky Station. Tickets cost 3,000 to 9,000 rubles ($100 to $300), depending on the class of service.